Duke Blue Devils (14-3 SU, 7-9 ATS, 6-10 O/U) vs. Louisville Cardinals (14-3 SU, 10-5 ATS, 3-11-1 O/U)
NCAAB: Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 12:00 p.m. EST
The Line: Louisville Cardinals -5. Total: 145.5
The Duke Blue Devils have lost two of their last four games heading into a road date with the Louisville Cardinals at the KFC Yum! Center on Saturday afternoon. Duke started the season 12-1 but has suffered recent setbacks at the hands of Virginia Tech and Florida State. The Cardinals have won two in a row at the expense Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh.
Didn’t pick up the slack
The Blue Devils failed their first big test without head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who is likely out for the rest of January because of back surgery. They fell 88-72 to Florida State on Tuesday after shooting 41.1 percent from the floor, including a mere 7-for-24 (29.2 percent) from three-point range.
“They definitely got frustrated in the second half, because they don’t have as many guys they can sub as we do,” FSU guard Dwayne Bacon said of the Blue Devils.
Forward Amile Jefferson missed the game with a bone bruise in his foot, so Duke was thinner than normal. It went only seven deep, with Chase Jeter and Frank Jackson coming off the bench. Eighth man Marques Bolden logged only four minutes. Sophomore Luke Kennard and freshman Jayson Tatum led the way with 23 and 21 points, respectively, but the Devils needed additional contributions to make up for Jefferson’s absence. They did not get enough. Grayson Allen finished with just nine points, while highly-touted freshman Harry Giles scored only five points to go along with two rebounds in 10 minutes. Allen is averaging a mediocre 12 points and 7.7 assists in three games since his return from a one-game suspension.
Relying on defense
After losing their first two ACC games to Virginia and Notre Dame, Louisville has reeled off back-to-back wins over Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh. The Cardinals, though, gave up 80 points in the recent defeat of the Panthers. That appears to be an aberration to the rule, because they feature the nation’s No. 1 defensive in terms of efficiency (per KenPom.com). Pitt’s 80 points marked a season-high against Louisville. Still, the Cards one of the country’s leaders in terms of forcing opponents to turn the ball over (21.4 percent of defensive possessions result in TOs).
On the other end of the court, Louisville relies on guards Quentin Snider and Donovan Mitchell to carry an offense that is averaging only 68.3 points per game (13th in the ACC). Snider tied a season-high with 22 points to lead the Cardinals past Pittsburgh, while Mitchell chipped in 15 points and eight rebounds. Mitchell is averaging 20 ppg in the last four games, including a season-high 25 during a 77-62 win over Indiana.
The Duke Blue Devils are:
- 1-5 ATS in their last six overall
- 1-6-1 ATS in their last eight road games
- 1-8 ATS in their last nine games against the ACC
The Louisville Cardinals are:
- 10-4-1 ATS in their last 15 home games
- 5-1 ATS in their last six home games against teams with losing road records
- 4-0 ATS in their last four games following an ATS loss
Jefferson may be back, but it’s unlikely that he will be 100 percent so soon after sustaining a bone bruise. Duke’s only wins in its last four outings have come against lowly Georgia Tech and Boston College. Stiffer competition has been able to get the best of the Devils of late. The Blue Devils are 1-5 ATS in their last six overall, 1-6-1 ATS in their last eight on the road, 1-8 ATS in their last nine against the ACC, and 1-5 ATS in their last six against winning opponents. Louisville is 10-4-1 ATS in its last 15 at home and 5-1 ATS in its last six at home against opponents with losing road records. Expect those trends to continue.
Pick: Louisville Cardinals -5
Jefferson could be set to return against Louisville, which would be a big boost to a Duke defense that allowed Florida State to shoot 53 percent from the field. The under is 8-3 in the Blue Devils’ last 11 on the road, 7-3 in their last 10 on the road against opponents with winning home records, and 16-6 in their last 22 against opponents with wining percentages over .600. It is also 37-18-3 in the Cardinals’ last 58 overall, 35-13-3 in their last 51 at home, and 11-4 in their last 15 against the ACC. Look for this one to stay under the total.